MJ Guitars...?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Axemeister, Feb 1, 2006.


  1. Axemeister

    Axemeister Member

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    I noticed that Joel Kosche, who is the current Collective Soul guitarist plays a somewhat interesting looking solid body with a split headstock and inward mounted tuners. It is an "MJ Guitar. The Mirage model. I had never heard anything about these, but the website says they have been around for many years...?

    I am curious to hear more about these guitars, if anybody has experience with them. The weird thing is that the website offers monthly payments as a purchase option....seems sort of odd for a so called custom guitar.

    Here is a promo pic of Kosche with his guitar:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. cSuttle

    cSuttle Member

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    Saw two of these hanging on the wall of a local music shop (now out of business). They looked really nice, but it was one of those places that wouldn't let you play anything (probably why they are out of business). This was about four years ago, so that's a few years at least.
     
  3. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    I played one at NGSW about 7-10 years ago, excellent, high quality guitar, custom made to the player's specs.
    I didn't like the looks that much, and PRS's were making me happy at the time, but it was a great axe. Kinda PRS-ish - but long scale.

    Someone associated with the mfg. used to post on the old PRS forum, but her posts were a little spammish, and they left.
     
  4. edwarddavis

    edwarddavis Supporting Member

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    Hi, I saw and tried them out this summer at a guitar show in Santa Monica. They had a lot of custom models that looked very nice. I actually have a few pictures I can post I just gotta find them. They are from what I gathered a small family run shop. Very nice people to talk top and some seriously nice looking guitars. I played a few and they were nice. NOt cheap at at all but on line with other custom made stuff. You see one on ebay here and there and they go at a pretty decent price but they may be a tough sell like other custom guitars if you don`t like it. Its sure it a great guitar to take a chance on though .
     
  5. opiate

    opiate Silver Supporting Member

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    MJ Guitars are very cool and very unique.
    I actually own two of them, a Catalina (Mirage Hollowbody) and a Roadster
    Baritone. Very cool, they definitely have a unique vibe and feel like
    fine custom built instruments.
    I think the Mirage design is very cool and very original. The top is very
    3 dimensional, more so then most pictures may lead you to think.
    Mark is a big fan of poplar and uses it a lot on his guitars. This gives
    them a very crisp tone, which is really cool. Tonally these guitars sit
    somewhere in the tonal territory between a hot rodded Strat and a Gibson
    (depending on the woods options you choose). They always have a certain
    clarity and definition to the tone which makes them very useful.
    A particularly nice aspect of MJ guitars are the necks. First of all
    these are often the most amazing pieces of flamed or bird's eye maple I've
    ever seen on a guitar neck. Secondly these wonderful materials are
    carefully hand shaped into great playing necks... On most models MJ necks
    are slightly on the thinner side, but not so thin that they would be
    anemic.
    ian
     
  6. teleking36

    teleking36 Supporting Member

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    my interest in MJ guitars was first sparked by Third Eye Blind, when Kevin Cadogan was using them. This was around '99 or '00. Really cool and unique looking guitars. I think the slotted headstock approach is very different, but in a good way. As far as wood choice, they've definitely got the pick of the litter for flamed and quilted maple, among others.

    i think if i ever had the money to throw down on one of these puppies, i'd probably get the Mirage or the Catalina.
     
  7. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    He made a friend of mine a neck and body for a custom tele before he got into his own thang. Nicely done, good work.
     
  8. joel

    joel Member

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    I've got two. I like them, although they are somewhat ideosynchratic (that means weird, in fancy talk, I think). I bought mine in '96. Mark told me that they made about 100 guitars a year, and made a lot of parts for bigger shops. I think the woodwork is very nice, and I like the shape & headstock. They balance perfectly, and are light even though they seem like big guitars. Both necks are wide/thin, even wide/very-thin. That's their standard neck, so keep that in mind if buying used. Also they are set up out of the factory with low action, low frets. If you buy a new one, Mark will make anything you like. Both of mine have a rich resonant acoustic tone, so put in the p'ups of your choice and they'll sound great. They pretty much used Duncan p'ups when I got mine. They look like double-cuts, but actually have a single-cut character the way the neck and body join. Personally, I'd prefer a Gibson 4-knob & switch arrangement, perhaps someday I'll have mine modified. One of mine had a neck stability problem, and they offered to saw it up and build me a new one. I chose to make do with a refret & various sandings, as I couldn't stand the idea of my axe being cut up, but I was pleased with their effort to make good on the problem. My other, the goldtop, has a few dead spots that are annoying, but where the neck is not dead, it is really alive, so I live with it. They go for a 'dipped in glass' finnish, so you might ask for a thin finnish if ordering new. I'm happy with mine, in fact I like them a lot, wouldn't consider selling them.
     
  9. joel

    joel Member

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    A few more things...

    The headstock flairs pretty quickly. So I sometimes find myself bumping my hand when I slide down to open position. Upper fret access is pretty good, although not as good as with a PRS. The body has a nice tummy-cut, so it has a comfortable wrap-around feel to it. The waste of the guitar is low, so it sits on your thigh very nicely if you like to play sitting. Much nicer than, say, an LP. Strings bend pretty easily, perhaps due to the design of the headstock. The 'dish' of the top is fairly deep, so there is a ridge all the way around. If you're the sort that grips your guitar with your right arm, you'll feel it after a while. They'll make it otherwise if you ask. The Johnson family are very nice. They made me feel like a personal friend when I got my guits, that was cool. Sort of like buying your guitar from Paul Smith and having him invite you over for dinner.
     
  10. MightyGuru

    MightyGuru Member

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    Bass player in my band has a nice MJ bass shaped like a Les Paul. Great materials and build.
     

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